Was Saturday a referendum of Missouri or a validation of Tennessee? A 27-point loss made it hard to tell.
On one hand, the Tigers (20-10, 9-9 Southeastern Conference) had two more field goals than turnovers. They were out rebounded by nearly 50 percent. They shot 31.9 percent from the field. Leading scorer Jabari Brown was held to one field goal.
On the other, the Volunteers (20-10, 10-8 SEC) had three scorers in double figures, dished 18 assists and scored 38 points in the paint.
Somewhere in the middle was a 72-45 drubbing that made Mizzou’s postseason fate certain. The Tigers must win next week’s SEC Tournament or die trying and pray for mercy from the tournament selection committee.
Jarnell Stokes set the pace for the Vols, scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He had nine boards at the half.
Jeronne Maymon, Jordan McRae and Antonio Barton only egged on the Senior Day route for Tennessee. They combined for 29 points, 15 boards and five assists.
The Volunteers lock up the No. 4 seed in the conference tournament — the last double-bye — while Missouri will sit at No. 7 or 8 depending on the result of Louisiana State and Georgia. As the No. 7 seed, the Tigers would face No. 10 Vanderbilt. As the No. 8 seed, they would face No. 9 Texas A&M.